Professional mixed martial arts is finally making its way into New York arenas after the state lifted a ban that has been in place since 1977.
On Tuesday, the New York State Assembly passed a bill that would pave the way to legalize and regulate the sport in the state. It received a bipartisan vote of 113-25, easily beating the required 76 votes to pass, according to ESPN.
With this, New York becomes the final state to legally allow the sport in its borders, and the bill will now go to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature. Gov. Cuomo has been a supporter of legalizing MMA in the state, and even included the proposal in this year’s State of the State address.
“Thousands of New Yorkers attend dozens of unregulated amateur MMA events in New York each year and unlicensed promoters organize and promote amateur MMA contests in all corners of New York State,” he said. “The Governor seeks to authorize both amateur and professional MMA.”
If the bill is approved, it will open the way for the Ultimate Fighting Championship league to hold signature events at marquee venues in the state. UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta has previously said the league would hold at least four annual events in New York for the first three years of legalized fighting, and plans to hold its first New York event this year at Madison Square Garden.
“We also look forward to scheduling events in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, and Brooklyn,” said Fertitta in a statement. “We are excited.”
The staging of UFC fights in prominent New York arenas could be a boon to the league. The last event, UFC 196, took in $8.1 million in gate receipts with an attendance of around 14,700. The next event, UFC 197, is set to feature the return of former titleholder Jon Jones.